First Time Coding: TeenShop & TechGirlz

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For 30 years, TeenShop has been empowering girls to become leaders and continue post-secondary education in Philadelphia as well as New Jersey and California. Founded and led by Elleanor Jean Hendley, the organization holds workshops for their members throughout the school year in a variety of life skills topics. They also go on field trips to colleges, attend cultural events, and perform community service.

TeenShop recently approached TechGirlz, inquiring if TechGirlz volunteers were available to run a technology workshop using TechShopz in a Box™. Arrangements were made for three TechGirlz volunteers to teach the You Can Code! workshop that uses Blockly games to introduce programming basics. Silvia Moreno, a software engineer at Comcast, led the workshop with the help of Barbara Preuninger, a senior web developer at the University of Pennsylvania, and Francis Bongiovanni, a recent graduate of New York Code + Design Academy. In just two hours, they reviewed the basics of programming using the drag and drop interface of Blockly to complete coding challenges such as navigating a maze and moving a bird around the screen.

The girls had never coded before and found the activities challenging but fun. “You have to be really specific when typing in the commands for the computer to follow,” said Morgan, one of the teens at the workshop. AhNazha liked that the challenges made her think differently about how to get from the start to the end of the maze.

Now that they have learned more about working with technology, these girls are ready to put their ideas into action. Morgan is looking forward to learning how to create her own video games by learning about animation. She also thinks that holograms would be a good way to provide company and medication reminders for senior citizens. Lauryn wants to learn more about website development so she can create a website to collect donations to help save the dying Alpaca population. And Amaris wants people to use technology for good – to stop conflicts and bring peace to the world.

Read Amaris’ writeup about the workshop here:

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